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בס"ד

A Text and a Sermon

<<273>>

It is not often, that we attempt to controvert the various statements of conversion organs, although we receive a goodly supply of them, and occasionally see much to excite the deepest attention, from the fact that so much wealth is expended, and so many men employed, for no other reason than to withdraw Jews from their attachment to the Synagogue, and to entice them within the fellowship of the so-called Christian Church, although this term is about the most indefinite in the whole range of terms in use in popular parlance. If a Jew should be even persuaded, by one or more of these messengers, that he would do well to change his faith: he would be sadly puzzled how to choose between the many claimants, all ready to receive his renunciation of religion—each claiming to be the only saving church, or at least as being the best and easiest road to salvation. This is not said with levity, in a tone of derision, for the purpose of casting ridicule on the dogmas of Christianity; but we only express a simple fact, which has been frequently noticed by others; and it exhibits, as strongly as possible, the folly of the many associations to break down the Jewish religion, till they have settled among themselves what the converted Jews are to believe in, and what to do to promote their salvation after they shall have cut loose their connexion with the Synagogue.

The Catholic would look with horror upon any attempt to lure Israelites away into the communion of the Lutheran and Angli<<274>>can churches; and these again would weep to see them change Judaism for the mummeries of the apostate church, as they call it. It is well that even the commonest and meanest capacities are fully aware that Christianity offers, to say the least, no greater certainty as a guide through life, than does our own religion; and hence it is, that with all, the bribes offered, with all the inducements presented, that by throwing off the law, they would lead a life free from the trammels of our observances, and with all the advantages resulting from a union with the dominant party: so few conversions are recorded in the various journals and magazines, which from time to time meet our view, that we hesitate little in saying that the Jews could present as long an array of conversion to Judaism as from it, if we had the mind to parade before the world all the instances which now and then come to our knowledge. But private matters, as conversions from conviction always must. be, are not to be dragged before the light of day, and to be commented on in popular publications; hence the assertion just made must suffice, that we have lost in England and America little numerical strength, if we keep a debit as well as a credit side in the conversion account. But admitting, even for argument’s sake, that we gain little by proselytes (which we are not, however, willing to grant, believing, as we do, that to admit pious applicants to the Synagogue would be advisable, under certain restrictions and under proper circumstances), we are quite certain that, on the other hand, we have lost not the least by the apostacy of all the renegadoes, so ostentatiously paraded before the world in the London Intelligence, and the New York Chronicle, both called, though falsely, Jewish, as their proper title should be anti-Jewish Intelligence [a missionary publication], and anti-Jewish Chronicle [another missionary publication], from the great joy they display at every falling off from our faith, which they have the pleasure to record. Their titles, however, only indicate that they discuss measures of operating upon Jews, and to do their utmost to banish the Jewish name from the face of the earth; and they and their supporters have frequently proved themselves bitter enemies to the names of Israel; and it is a fortunate thing indeed that they have no Inquisition, backed by the power of the state, <<275>>to work a wholesale destruction of our property and persons, for the salvation of our souls, by the terrors of confiscation, and imprisonment, and torture, and death, as was done ere this, in the name of a religion, so-called, of peace and mercy.

But our business this time is not with the conversion policy, as we only touched upon it to introduce an extract from a missionary report in the London Intelligence, for July (the latest received by us), dated at Berlin, in Prussia, by a man who is, if we mistake not, an apostate from his God, and labours with those of the same degree, in his unholy endeavours to pull down what the Lord has stated should stand for ever. We will merely advertise our readers that every one of the numerous messengers “the London Society for promoting Christianity amongst the Jews” sends out, is expected to transmit a monthly, or at least a periodical report, to the chief bureau in the British metropolis, of what each has seen, heard, and done. And though there can be no question that everything is coloured to suit the especial purpose of the missionaries: it is well to examine the matter occasionally, in order to see how others regard us, although this be with a hostile eye, in order to draw thence lessons for our guidance, which the writers did not themselves intend for our benefit. Of one thing our readers may be sure, that if we do not discover our own faults, if we are blind to our backslidings, the Christian world is always attentive, and the various derelictions of which we are guilty, will be duly spread forth in the public journals for the gratification of that numerous class of readers who take a deep and abiding interest in the proceedings of the Jews, and the vicissitudes of the ancient people of God. But we must proceed with our extract.—The missionary represents himself as having a conversation with a Jew, who complained that immorality had greatly increased, and that but little true religion is met with now-a-days, either amongst Jews or Christians. The missionary assented to this, but finished by stating that all ought to assist each other in tottering the present condition of things, and to commence by becoming Christians, as a faith in the man of Nazareth is alone able both to save mankind from perdition and to improve the present low <<276>>state of morals. The Jew answered by stating that he was a simple man and could not pronounce a judgment whether Judaism or Christianity be the true religion; and, after some farther parley, he wound up by answering that it was not probable that he ever should embrace the Christian faith; and ends with, “But as to my children, I send them to Christian schools, and they are educated like the Christian children, and if hereafter they are convinced and wish to embrace Christianity, I shall never prevent them, or put any obstacle in their way.” And then we find appended to this report of a conversation, of which we have given the main features, the following striking passage:

“The leaven of Christianity working among the rising generation of the Jews.

“It is a remarkable feature of the present generation of Jews, that this is the sort of reasoning we bear from the great majority, whenever the subject is broached. And there is no doubt but that a large number of the rising generation will find their way into the Church of Christ. I am acquainted with very rich Jewish families in this town (Berlin), the children of whom have no idea of Judaism; they do not even know that there is a difference between them and their Christian school-fellows. There are Jewish children here iii a Christian boarding-school, sent up from the country, who learn the Catechism and everything else, just as their school-fellows. There is much the same thing with many Jews, who ask for tracts or a New Testament, though they have no time, or it may be no inclination to read them, yet they wish to have them for their children.”

The above article is heralded forth by &he editor of the Intelligence in this fashion: “The following journal corroborates in a remarkable manner the statements made by the committee in their last annual report respecting the visible development of a progressive change in the Jewish mind throughout Germany, from which the happiest results may be expected.”

We request our readers to read this text over for a few times, so that they may comprehend fully what our opponents hope for —how they long for the time when they shall be able to deal a deadly blow at our blessed faith, from which it never is to rally again; and when they have looked at these words, so ominous <<277>>of death and decay, so rife of blasphemy and a daring denial of God’s truth, who predicted that Israel should never be cast off, to be abhorred utterly: we beg them to cast a look within them­selves, whether they be rich or poor, to see if they themselves do not contribute much, that the children of the uncircumcised may have cause to glory over the backslidings of Israel, and over many, yea, many being strangers to our God, strangers to his religion, strangers to the feelings of Israelites. The missionary confesses that immorality and false religion have been on the increase; and this, notwithstanding preachers of Christianity have traversed the earth, and millions on millions been expended in printing books and tracts to diffuse its tenets in every direction. And still he glories that Jews are hastening to the state of ignorance of that religion, which has always been the best promoter of a high morality and an enlightened faith, when their lapsing into Christianity shall be easily consummated. Do you hear this, ye rich and powerful? Do you hear this, ye men of talents and learning? Do you hear it, ye simple and unlettered? Do you hear it, ye poor and afflicted? Do you hear this, mothers, and daughters, and sons of Israel? Do you perceive them, in imagination, rearing up a large baptismal font, getting ready millions of baptismal certificates to write out a funeral register of God’s holy faith, by the withdrawal of all that bore it fealty, that bore its burden, that bore its token in the covenant of circumcision, in the rest of the Sabbath, in the fast of the Atonement, in the unleavened bread at the Feast of Redemption? And are you so little imbued with zeal, so little alive to your duty, as to let everything take the downward course, which your enemies rejoice over, forgetful of your appointment as the witnesses of God’s existence, as the living proofs of the truth of his word, which He has so wonderfully placed in your mouth, never to depart therefrom to the end of days?
Do you not see that the enemies of Israel rely on the defective system of education of Christian boarding and day-schools, to make your children derelicts to their faith, through ignorance of its tenets? How are they to resist /he allurements of the daughters of Moab, and of those of Midian, as did fall your <<278>>ancestors At Shittim, when Israel clave unto Baal-Peor, and there was a terrible plague in the congregation of the Lord? Lo! see on the dark horizon, far in the west, the storm-cloud gathering; soon the low muttering of the distant thunder will startle your ear, and anon the fierce blaze of the terrific lightning will dazzle your eyes, when the hurricane in all its fury bursts over you. And whither will you then flee from the rushing torrents, when you have provided yourselves no shelter, no refuge, no secure haven, where you can be shielded till the evil be passed away? Believe one who has not passed through life without watching the changeful tide of prosperity and woe, that to Israel there is no safety, except in the bosom of the law of God. Often have they endeavoured to cast off that mysterious embrace, which the law of Sinai throws, with its invisible arms, around them. But it was only that the sinning generations might perish, that those who had dared to brave the wrath of God, might no longer cumber the earth with their hateful presence. Israel is holy to God! but only as Israel, as those having found favour with their Maker, and are acceptable by good deeds and mercy to their fellow-mortals. As such only can we have peace, whether, as in olden times, we are princes and rulers in our own heritage; or, as now, when we wander from east to west, and from north to south, to seek a resting-place for the sole of our foot, worn with much travel, stumbling from the fatigues of a never-ending pilgrimage. Yet as pleasing to God, as acceptable to man, can we find peace and protection amidst the greatest trials; but let us forget our destiny to be a light unto the nations—let us once be willing to lie down and lose the token of the covenant, to become identified with those who call not in their sorrows on the Mighty One of Jacob: and, be you sure, that our peace is gone, and that the Almighty will not let his indignation rest until it have avenged the outraged covenant, and broken the hearts that refused to submit themselves to his service.

It is evident that our opponents are not wrong in supposing that if they are intrusted with the education of any of your children, they will be able to fix their poisonous arrows in the <<279>>souls of all those they have under their control, and send them home to you thoroughly estranged from you, thoroughly tinctured with infidelity to your God, absolutely hating the forms of that religion which you still continue to practise, perhaps more from habit than conviction, but which, nevertheless, you cannot bear to see treated with disregard, especially by those who are so dear to you as the children of your bosom. And what have you done, what do you to prevent their so becoming odious to your outward eye, hateful to your inward soul? Tell us not that you can be indifferent; it is impossible, no Jew ever is; he may deceive himself, he may flatter his cowardice by saying to himself he does not believe in Moses and the prophets, that to him the law is like an old fairy tale, which ought not to regulate his life nor influence his fear;—but at the bottom of his heart he trembles; in the moment of his security he feels dread; and on his sleepless pillow, in the dark, long, leaden hours of the weary night, he looks about himself in momentary apprehension of chastisement from that mighty Hand which he knows he cannot escape. Yea, those that fear God, who tremble at his word, have cause to look with doubt upon the issue of the divine judgment. How much more then must they shrink within themselves, who, having once learnt what the Lord demands of them, “to love Him, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave to Him,” have still given up their children to the modern Molech, the love of wealth and pleasure, that they might not have the feelings of Israelites, not know the immortal God, not feel for, Israel, not care for the breach of Joseph, but seek their happiness among the gentiles, and their hopes in a god whom their fathers never worshipped.

Your enemies, O friends in Israel, despair of wresting from your hands the visible tokens of the law; of tearing out of your hearts the impress of Jacob’s trust in the God who so wonderfully preserved him and us, all his descendants, in his and our wanderings. While you know only of the Lord, which is ONE, without parts, without limbs, without parentage, without descent, without addition, and without diminution: they despair, as well they may, to win you over to their unreasonable plurality in unity, to three in one, and one in three. But they only ask of <<280>>you to shut up your own Jewish schools, to stop the months of the bold inspired men, in whom breathes the mind which first animated the prophets, which spoke through David the king, through the fervid Isaiah, and the lowly Amos: in order that they may mould for you the flexible souls of your little ones, that they may day by day instil their honeyed poison into their impressible fancy, so that after the lapse of a few years, they may have learned to bend their knee to Baal, and to call on a mediator who exists not, to pray through a redeemer who cannot be, instead of invoking directly with the confidence which a son feels for his loving father, the sole ONE, who needs no aid to save, no adjunct to bestow his blessing, no mediator to propitiate his good will. Imagine not that this is idle fear, the timid inspiration of an excited fancy; indeed not, friends, indeed not. It has not yet been the will of our Eternal King to inscribe his law in all the hearts of Israel, so that they may know Him from their biggest to the least. The time of the world’s redemption has not yet arrived, and the struggle between truth and falsehood is not ended up to this moment. Surely, then, you who retain a lingering love for the name of Israel, to whom the law of God is not quite a dead letter, who occasionally feel joy when your brethren are at peace, and who experience pain when some tale of sorrow and of oppression is brought to your knowledge, and in short all ye who have not yet an absolute hatred for your people, and the faith delivered to you by the God of your there; all ye, we say, must feel shocked when you take a calm survey of the danger which our enemies prepare for your children and your children’s children, in paving the way for withdrawing them totally from the communion of Israel, to lead them, step by step, into that labyrinth of sophistry, in which they will be so entangled by specious expositions of what is not and cannot be, that they may be led to look on the truth as error, and pity you, their yet unconverted progenitors, as you may appear in their cant phraseology, for still adhering, though this be but merely in name, to the revelation from Sinai. You may not now look upon this consummation as a thing to be dreaded. But do not, for mercy’s sake, deceive yourselves! There may be, nay, there <<281>>will be days of awakening, when your Christian-like educated son may desire of you to furnish him with the means to study Christian theology, to qualify himself to propagate the new truths which your indulgent folly has caused him to imbibe in Christian schools, Christian seminaries, and Christian chapels, by listening to seductive sermons from well-trained Christian divines; and then will your tears flow in vain before your apostate child, in vain will, you implore him to reflect, and not to break your sorrowing heart, not to send you in weeping to an untimely tomb. O! it will be to no purpose that you implore, that you threaten, that you weep, that you, both father and mother, conjure him, by the most endearing ties that bind him to you; he may wince a moment; but if he has been well trained, he will soon arouse himself and shake off all natural weaknesses, and glory in the greatness of the sacrifices he makes by slaying his father and his mother on the altar of his false religion. And if you bid the unnatural bigot to quit your presence for ever, he and his tutors will make the wide world ring with your fanaticism, that you yourselves had yet left a spark of faith, and would not with your own hands sacrifice your child to Molech.

Or fancy that your daughter should have completed her education, as the foolish phraseology of the world terms a little music, a little French, a little German, a smattering of ill-digested scientific instruction, the ability to sketch a few rude objects from nature, or drawings by good masters, and return home to you from her boarding-school with well-engrafted Christian phrases, calling the Sunday Sabbath, a mere mortal a Saviour, the Jewish people stricken with judicial blindness, and whatever else she may have learned from her teachers and companions: and do you think that she can love you? can she, who knows nothing of Judaism,—can she, we ask, respect those who share not her perverted notions of theology, which was engrafted with all its absurdities on her tender heart when impressions could be permanently made? and when some lordling claims her admiration, when she sees one whom, in fashionable language, she conceives could make her happy,—do you imagine that she will forego the dictates of her heart, and wed a man of your choice, <<282>>of your people, but with whose religious opinions she has not a solitary feeling of sympathy or accord? may she not quit your house clandestinely, and seek for what is termed religious instruction from some priest or bishop, that she may be first rendered worthy by baptism, to espouse a man with whom her ruin will be sealed when the days of the momentary excitement are over? Do you think that we are taking a romantic flight? O no, whether your own experience has verified what we tell you or not, believe us, it is the sad language of truth; and did we deem it proper to unveil before the public gaze family secrets, both in America and Europe, which our position has made us familiar with, we could make your blood curdle by relating events, which surpass the dreams of the novelist. Some of our readers will confess to the truth of what we are sketching before you; and if they would have the candour to lay Wore the world the sad afflictions, which have destroyed the peace of their families, and which have torn asunder, for ever, their connexion with the house of Israel: tears would flow from many an eye which no hurries over these lines in reading them, perhaps with the smile of derision, or the loud laugh of incredulity.

Moreover, do not imagine that you will be safe where others stumbled; that you may let your children imbibe deadly poison in their youth, foolishly thinking that you can implant religious truths at those times and seasons when your children are at home during vacation, or after the hours of study. You are no doubt sincere in your intentions; but, fashionable fathers, busy fathers, pleasure-seeking fathers, sleepy fathers, uneducated fathers, unbelieving fathers, tell us, how many hours do you devote to the religious training of your sons when they are under your roof? have you the tact to discover the injury which a cunning priesthood, which winds its deadly folds, not at once, but creepingly, gradually, imperceptibly around the hearts of the unwary, is able to inflict? do you not perceive that it is not their plan to let you see at once what they are aiming at, whilst they are nevertheless almost sure of their prey? Or you, fashionable, busy, pleasure-seeking, scheming, flippant, unbelieving mothers, who are not fatigued by a day’s toil, and can therefore, if you <<283>>will, speak to your daughters, when they are with you by the cheerful blaze in a winter’s evening, do you speak of religion with them, or do you impress on their minds to be firm and faithful? do you point out to them the vanity of earthly things, the fleetingness of all that is here below—the awful endurance of eternity—the goodness of God—the blessedness of hope—the beauty of holiness—the truth of the divine promises—the glory that is to dawn over Israel when the Lord will return to rebuild Zion, and gather the captives of Judah? Or is it some trifling accomplishment that is held up as the highest attainable good—the latest fashion—the opera and play—the party or ball—an engagement or wedding—the bad qualities of a neighbour, the foibles of the good,—or whatever else is so attractive, which forms the subject of the conversation? Say, have you at home stated times for prayer?—do your children see that you humble yourselves before God? that you regard all mankind as coequals before the Supreme? are you, in short, Jews after the ancient manner, when the glory of the Most High dwelt among us, and his light beamed from our head?

O, these are weighty considerations—which fathers and mothers should lay solemnly to heart; and if they find that it is the schools where the character is formed for good or for evil, as find they must, we trust, we beg, we entreat them, that they will lend their aid, not alone to provide the heavenly manna for the poor, who must perish without it, and die an everlasting death, but to aid themselves too, that they and their offspring may also have an abundance of the blessed legacy which has descended to us from that long line of ancestry, before which all earthly nobility sinks into insignificance, and that they and their children too may not imbibe the bitter waters of unbelief or false religion, which though sweet at first to the taste, are rife with the seed of death—yea, death everlasting. It is the general school, under pious teachers alone, which can build up permanently the structure of faith, and cover with shame and confusion enemies and apostates, who stand ready to send forth a shout of triumph over our downfall; and let us hope that every one who has the power (and who is there without some power and influence?) will aid <<284>>the trusty friends of religion to spread into every corner the sacred flame, and to kindle everywhere the pure heavenly lamp, the light of which is the only sure guide to salvation.

For the present, we bid you farewell, kind reader, and may you on the approaching festive season, especially on the New Year and the Day of the Atonement, avow to educate your children that they may be willing, of their own accord, to serve the Lord all their days.